Effects of castration method and frequency of intramuscular injections of ketoprofen on behavioural and physiological indicators of pain in beef cattle.

Moya, D., González, L.A., Caulkett, N.A., Fireheller, E., and Schwartzkopf-Genswein, K.S.G. (2014). "Effects of castration method and frequency of intramuscular injections of ketoprofen on behavioural and physiological indicators of pain in beef cattle.", Journal of Animal Science, 92(4), pp. 1686-1697. doi : 10.2527/jas.2013-7298  Access to full text


Two experiments were conducted to determine the effect of a single or multiple intramuscular (i.m.) injection of ketoprofen and castration technique on physiological and behavioral indicators of pain in beef calves. A total of 150 bull calves (284.8 ± 22.7 kg BW) were used in both experiments, each 1 conducted as a 3 × 2 factorial design, where main factors included castration technique—no castration (CT), surgical (SU), or band (BA)—and drug administration—physiological solution (PS) or i.m. injection of ketoprofen (KP; 3 mg Anafen/kg BW) in the neck of calves. Animals were weighed weekly during the experiment to calculate ADG. Behavioral responses indicative of pain and discomfort during the castration procedure were documented using a visual analog score (VAS) by an experienced observer who was blind to the treatments. Movements of the animals in the chute during castration were quantified using a strain gauge system mounted on the head gate to evaluate the escape response of the cattle. Pens were equipped with an automated feed bunk monitoring system enabling feed intake and feeding behavior to be continuously monitored for each individual. Thermographic images of the scrotal area were evaluated 24 and 0.5 h before castration, 0.5, 1, 24, 48, and 270 h postcastration, and weekly thereafter until the end of the trial. Blood samples were obtained postcastration to evaluate changes in total white blood cell (WBC) count and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte (N:L) ratio. Saliva samples were taken 24 and 0.5 h before castration, immediately after castration, and 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 24, and 48 h and then 5, 7, and 14 d after castration to determine cortisol concentration. Scrotal temperature, VAS, total WBC, N:L ratio, salivary cortisol, mobility, and pressure exerted in the chute were greater (P < 0.05) and ADG and feed intake were lower (P < 0.05) in SU than in CT animals within the first week after castration. Also, BA calves had a greater (P < 0.05) scrotal temperature around wk 4 after castration and a lower feed intake and ADG at wk 2 and 3 and wk 6 and 7 after castration, respectively, compared to CT. Treatment KP had limited effects on reducing the indicators of pain associated with SU or BA, suggesting that further studies will be needed to assess the posology of the i.m. administration of ketoprofen to improve the consistency of its effects as a pain mitigation strategy after castration.

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